Design of 49 & 50-Star Flags

  1. Background Information
  2. Documents
  3. Examples of Designs
  4. Additional Information
As early as 1953, members of the Eisenhower Administration were considering how a new flag would be created to include stars for the admission of the potential new states of Alaska and Hawaii. When the last states had been admitted in 1912, a joint Army-Navy board submitted recommendations to the President who made the final choice. On July 14, 1953 President Eisenhower declared that his preferred method to select a flag design was to appoint a joint committee with six members: three representatives from the Armed forces and one each from the Interior Department, State Department and Commission on Fine Arts.

In September, 1958 the White House staff decided the time had finally come to determine the procedure for selecting the 49-star flag design. On October 16, 1958 the White House issued a press release stating that the Secretaries of State, Defense, and Treasury, along with the Chairman of the Commission on Fine Arts were appointed to informally propose the new flag designs to the President. In September 1958, Acting Secretary of the Army, had already sent designs for the 49-star and 50-star flags to the Secretary of Defense that included the designs that would be ultimately selected by the President. At a Cabinet meeting on November 19, 1958, President Eisenhower received a briefing on the history of the flag design process and several suggestions were made regarding designs for the new flags. The President stated a preference for seven staggered rows of seven stars and those at the meeting concurred that this kind of arrangement would easily allow for the addition of the 50th star.

The Committee formally submitted their designs for the 49-star flag on December 30, 1958. On January 3, 1959 President Eisenhower issued Executive Order 10798 establishing the design of the 49-star flag. On July 4, 1959 this flag was first officially raised over Fort McHenry National Historic Site with Secretary of the Interior Fred A. Seaton presiding. The Committee formally submitted their designs for the 50-star flag on August 17, 1959. On August 21, 1959 President Eisenhower issued Executive Order 10834 establishing the design of the 50-star flag. This flag was first officially raised over Fort McHenry National Historic Site on July 4, 1960 with Secretary of the Interior Fred A. Seaton presiding.

From the first year of the Eisenhower administration the public had anticipated that Alaska and Hawaii might be added as new states and that a new flag design would be needed. The earliest submission of a 50-star flag design came in 1953, but the bulk of the submissions began pouring in after the admission of Alaska in 1958. By the time the official design was declared for the 50-star flag more than 3,000 people had sent in their ideas, some of them submitting multiple designs. The designs came in a wide range of media from simple pencil sketches to professionally constructed flags. This was an especially popular project for elementary school children who expressed their ideas with construction paper, crayons, tempera paint and tiny stick-on stars.